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The jig is up and the game is up

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  • The jig is up is a phrase which means the plot has been foiled, the deception has been seen through, the game is over. A jig is an energetic dance, but during Elizabethan times jig also came to mean a trick or a practical joke. Therefore, when the jig is up it means that the practical joke has been exposed. Interestingly, the first example of the phrase the jig is up comes from a Philadelphia, PA newspaper dated 1800, though the jig is over is spotted in 1777.

    The game is up is a British phrase that also means the plot has been foiled, the deception has been seen through, the game is over. The game is up has evolved from its original meaning, which was all is lost. The game is up first appears in the early seventeenth century.

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    Examples

    Jig is up for jailed jewellery jacker (The Phnom Penh Post)

    As college students, we all vacillate between enthusiasms, pinballing among stimuli and changing circumstances – until year four, when the jig is up. (The Guardian)

    When the pope writes an encylical to address climate change and fossil fuel’s role in it, the jig is up for deniers. (The Huffington Post)

    At that point, Trevor, apparently just a typical self-involved actor, leaves the couch with an loping, splay-footed gait and the jig is up. (The Los Angeles Times)

    But now the game is up and she is paying the highest price by losing her freedom, not to mention her career.” (The Manchester Evening News)

    But even – especially – Unionists know the game is up. (The Herald Scotland)

    But we’ve reached a stage, haven’t we?, where an Economic Party really does need to step forward and declare that the game is up. (Financial Post)

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